OBJECTIVE. We studied the experience of family occupations in the Snoezelen context (i.e., a highly specialized therapeutic room for family gatherings) and analyzed how it facilitated occupations for parents of children with severe and profound mental retardation living in residential facilities.
METHOD. In-depth interviews and participatory observations were held with 10 families of children with mental retardation living in a long-term residential facility for children with mental retardation in Haifa, Israel.
RESULTS. Two main themes emerged: The Snoezelen environment was experienced as another world, where parents sensed detachment from external reality and a transition to relaxation and intimacy. The intimacy of the Snoezelen world fostered the experience of being together as a family, where all family members shared fun activities and strengthened their relationship.
CONCLUSIONS. A sense of intimacy and relaxation, provided by the Snoezelen environment, is important in facilitating family occupations for this population. Interventions in occupational therapy must be designed that take these requirements into consideration.